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tv   Second Look  FOX  September 2, 2012 11:00pm-11:30pm PDT

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up next on a second look, the first paying passenger road b.a.r.t. 40 years ago this month. the engineering and politics that brought that system into being. plus the road bumps it hit along the way and a look at the popular transit system that served the east bay before b.a.r.t.
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and what happened to it. it's all straight ahead on a second look. hello everyone i'm frank somerville and welcome to a second look. next week b.a.r.t. is celebrating 40 years of operation. it was on september 11, 1972 that b.a.r.t. officials gathered at lake merit station to cut the ribbon on the bay area's newest way to get around. the first segment to open ran between fremont and mcarthur. but when gertrude guild put her ticket in she became the first paying passenger and it's all history from there. it started with the formation of the rapid transit district. construction began on june 19, 1964 when president lindon
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johnson -- >> reporter: public transportation for contra costa county and possibly the world aimed for a future today at a testing site here in concord. the first of three 80,000 pounds 80,000 -- pound b.a.r.t. test car carried officials and news men along the 4-1/2 mile test track. >> how does it look so far? >> well this is perhaps the fourth time we've run this car. my opinion if it never gets any better than it's running right now it's better than transit systems operating today. >> reporter: the transit district will reach to all nine counties surrounding san francisco bay. involving 100 communities and measuring up to 250 miles in lenght. >> reporter: building b.a.r.t. was one of the largest under takings in history. the project not only meant tunneling through two of the
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biggest cities but tunneling under san francisco too. in 1997 when b.a.r.t. was celebrating it's 25th anniversary. our health and science editor john fowler brought us this report. >> reporter: we tend to forget b.a.r.t. was not the first. the key system ran all along the east bay even to san francisco. it was killed off in the postworld war ii automobile boom by tire and auto makers. the b.a.r.t. idea sprung up even while key train was in e if -- was in use. they invisioned something like this. nothing so grand had ever been tried and the idea stayed in the dark for another decade. until state legislators formed the bay area rapid transit district in 1957 and gave it
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the power to levee taxes. in 1859, with the key system long gone, engineers started to form the system to free san francisco, alameda and contra costa. voters narrowly approved $3 million for construction. 30 years ago as an experimental train clankered through, they started breaking streets in san francisco. in 1968 channel 2 reporter charlton cordell told us about the b.a.r.t. tunnel. during the times, one of america's longest. reputed the only project ever to lose money. in san francisco water and mud 100 feet underneath the financial district made these one of the most difficult tunnels projects in history. described as the biggest story
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of engineering talent ever assembled, the crown was this, a tube under the bay. they built 57 binocular shaped sections each weighing 10 now tons and launched them like ships at the bethlehem yards. >> the first tube i will never forget it, sunk. >> reporter: someone left the hatches open on that first tube, it went straight to the bottom. >> it cost them $1 million to raise that tube. that was something. >> reporter: more careful after that the contractors used special barges to position the floating tubes in the bay. engineers sunk them with .1 of an inch precision. once the sections were joined
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under water, channel 2's cameras went down for a tour. >> it's designed to withstand with an earthquake with the magnitude of the 1902 earthquake and will be 106 feet under water. >> reporter: it made a tremendous noise and first thing i thought of was earthquake. >> reporter: the noise turned out to be a ship dragging anchor over the bottom. today boyd says the transbay tube is the most solid segment of b.a.r.t. >> me personally i would feel safer in the tube than any where in the bay area. >> during an earthquake. >> yes. >> reporter: but back in the late 60s, confidence in b.a.r.t. was shaky. communities such as berkeley wanted changes in the system. 15miles of track and 15 staeugs had to be relocate -- 15 stations had to be relocated.
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inflation zapped reserves, overreturn and improvements put it overbudget by $150 million. that's why there's a half cent tax today. b.a.r.t. cars were everyone controversial unlike anything else on rails, wheel sets 9- inches wider and winds on the golden gate bridge. neither problem faced by today's trains yet the design escalated costs. a train control system, a strike and other delays at car contractor roar and bulky fair collecting machines all helped put b.a.r.t. more than a year behind schedule. >> still to come on a second look, tens of thousands ride b.a.r.t. through the berkeley hill tunnels every day but how many know what it took to put those tunnels there? we'll have two reports. and two b.a.r.t. trains collide, we'll have coverage from the day it happened.
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welcome back to a second look where tonight we celebrate b.a.r.t.'s anniversary. b.a.r.t. gave people a way to get to their jobs in san francisco without having to sit in all that traffic at the caldecut tunnel. but it wouldn't have been possible without a pair of tunnels through the berkeley hills. the tunnels are 4.5 miles long and b.a.r.t. fishished them in 67. ktvu followed them through the project and here are two reports. >> reporter: the tunnel which will go through the mountains starts here just off shiboe
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road in oakland. with me is assistant engineer decker. how far are you in from this side. >> we will be a mile very shortly. >> can we go inside and take a look. >> indeed you can, let's get on the motor and go. do you run into any particular problems as you bore into the mountain? >> no particularly one. we have very strong rock that breaks the timber. it appears to settle down and we think we have it all done. >> is that the sequence you bore in with the big drill, blast and clear debris and start all over. >> right. >> will they will covered with concrete. >> they'll be covered with 18- inch thickness. they'll be perfectly safe after that. >> one of these tunnels the one
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in the north now goes 3 miles all the way through. the other when finished will also go 3 miles so we decided to take a ride inside all the way to the end or at least how far we can go. we came in about a quarter of a mile. the agitator lets the concrete out, goes down the conveyor belt and they're laying the bed for more track. b.a.r.t.'s 25th anniversary came at a time when b.a.r.t. workers were actually on strike. they walked off the job on september 7, 1997 and actually closed the system to passengers for eight days. but as rob roth reported at the time. some of the trains did keep running. >> while dozens and dozens of b.a.r.t. cars sat idle at the richmond yard, some trains were still on the move. no this is not a mirage to help maintain the system, each day b.a.r.t. has a few trains coming and
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going. >> this morning we got on at the lake merritt station and headed through the tube to san francisco. one of b.a.r.t.'s biggest concerns is the train tracks. if the trains don't run the track can build rust. b.a.r.t. calls it polishing the tracks. if less rust would build up workers would have to grind it down. and that's 100 miles worth of grinding. no one we spoke with even wanted to guess how long that would take. a handful of nonunion workers were in the usual places, checking the system, troubleshooting normally this room would be packed. >> we have the capability of controlling all the stations. we everyone have seismic alarms that come in from various locations. in order to maintain the integrity of the system we have to keep the control center
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staffed 24 hours a day. this rare glimpse of b.a.r.t. helps you see why it will take more than 48 hours to keep everything moving again. >> it's going to be a massive under taking with the system back in operation. >> b.a.r.t. was going to have a ground breaking ceremony for the san francisco station. that has been postponed. when we come back on a second look a deadly fire hit as train in the transbay tube. we have coverage from a day in 1979 when it happened. >> and we'll show you the system that proceeded b.a.r.t. with trains that ran across the bay bridge.
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on a second look we're tracking the history of b.a.r.t. as it's preparing to come on its anniversary. here's what happened one train caused a short circuit and that caused the train behind it
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to catch fire. fortunately the passengers all got out safely but a firefighter ended up dying from smoke inhalation. the two would remain close while state officials tried to determine whether it was safe and b.a.r.t. replaced the material in all the seats. here's our coverage now from that night of the fire january 15th, 1979. >> good evening there's a serious fire in the transbay tube. a fire that has claimed the death of a fireman. he died at providence hospital this evening. 18 more have been injured. that fire is still burning in the tube at this hour. what you're going to see is the fire at the oakland west station. at about the time the fire occurred they all rushed to the front of the six car train. ambulances were called to the oakland west station. an emergency rescue train was
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immediately dispatched from the center tube. the passengers then had to sit on the train for 45 minutes while they waited for help. they were brought out of a passage way and there they were put on to another train that had been sent to pick them up and taken to the westward station. >> did it appear people were going to panic. >> people were a bit concerned about panicking, yes. >> you panicked? >> i was in the back car when it exploded. the first thing i saw was an explosion. the second was an explosion and fire. wow i can't describe it. >> which car were you on? >> the very last car. >> reporter: you're seeing now some of the oakland firefighters who were brought out. they came out on the san francisco side. they had to go all the way through the tube. they were having problems finding the blaze because by the time they got to it their
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air tanks were empty and had to come back out. >> five days after the transbay tube fire, family, friends and fellow firefighters all gathered to remember the man who died. and as betty anne bruno reported at the time, many were angry as to what had happened. >> elliot's widow and family displayed their own kind of bravery as his casket was placed in the hurst after the memorial. a motorcycle squad led the procession to the cemetery. but underneath the grief was a boiling anger over the way he
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died. >> i feel that bill died for nothing. >> reporter: and that anger is directed at fire chief william moore. >> my husband is out of this fire department because they don't have the leadership that they need. i wish the men could pick the chief. that's what i wish. because the politicians pick them every time and they don't care about the men. >> people are very upset. they feel that the chief should come out strongly. should not let this happen again if we're going to go down in that bore again, we want to be protected. and it's going to take more than just talking to protectives. >> she's not taking a positive enough stand on where we are. he is fighting of course to get more masks and to get the locks removed from the doors. those kind of things. everyone under ideal conditions
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wouldn't have made a whole lot of difference. i think that's the thing that concerns you more than any of the rest of it is that the system is allowed to continue to function and just go along like everything is fine. and it isn't. the people are in jeopardy every time they ride that train. >> reporter: but the chief says he's not going to be satisfied with just talk this time. >> the oakland fire department is coming through about it. and starting yesterday make sure something is done about it. we don't just talk about cooperation we're going to demands action and we've already done that. we've talked to b.a.r.t. people. they've guaranteed we're going to get those 40 masks they're going to be here sometime this week. they're going the take the door locks off the doors in the tunnel. we're going to have better markings on the doors, better communications and those things are in fact, being done right now. i told them that with all due respect to their corporation, that it's not doing the job we
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need action not cooperation. >> but for lieutenant -- it's all over. >> five days from that fatal fire b.a.r.t. took the media into the transbay tube to see the damage that it has caused. duran was on the train when it rolled into the tube. >> reporter: b.a.r.t. supervisors took us a ride a mile into the tube where the fire erupted. the walls inside were singed with suit. other wise the tube showed few signs of the fire that killed one fireman and injured 50 other people. work crews have been repairing communication lines they're also sandblasting the line in order to repair them. last weekend, the tube was
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ordered shut until it can be inspected. b.a.r.t. says the tube is safe. >> we just came out to see what happened to the integrity of the structure. it looks very good. we can find nothing but superficial damage. >> reporter: a lot of officials believe that the tube will be ready to use by the end of the week. they need approval by the various fire chiefs and that's going to take some time. still, they're also going to convince the public that the tube is ready to use. it was called the key system. so whatever happened to the system that proceeded b.a.r.t.?
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b.a.r.t.'s 40th birthday is the focus tonight on a second look. before b.a.r.t. connected the east bay to san francisco there was another system that ran commuter trains on the west deck it was called
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the key system. back in 1984, george watson compared the two. >> reporter: it seems that b.a.r.t. has settled for something less than it could be. it runs 16 trains in one direction for hour, not the promised 40. 349 trains travel on the 71 miles of track on a given day. that is half of b.a.r.t.'s capabilities. to put that into perspective let's take a 60 year step back in time. the key system ran 600 trains a day, one minute apart to the waiting commuter ferry boats while making more stops along the way, the old key was still almost as fast as b.a.r.t. is today. when the key was running on the bay bridge it took 28 minutes to travel from university avenue in berkeley to san francisco. today it takes b.a.r.t. 27 minutes. when you consider the fact the key system was a privately owned private seeking venture and that b.a.r.t. is a publicly subsidized operation that one minute difference becomes a mighty expensive proposition. to be fair let's look at it in
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a slightly different light. b.a.r.t. is all we have today and even though the system is less than what was promised, we do need it. in 1962 when the voters decided to funds b.a.r.t. it was only four years after the last key system train ran across the bay bridge. it didn't take long for people to realize that a wonderful urban system was lost and something had to replace it. b.a.r.t. was the answer. it's a good train, it is needed and it's also frustrating that it is not what we paid for. anyone who was born or came here after 1941 miss something that is hard to put into words. we had a transit system that was simple, clean and efficient. it was a part of our lives, it made commuting less of a chore. what we had can never be as it was but a reasonable facsimile is a part of our future. >> we saw it all disappear. went on the last trains to all these spaces and the last run at the local streetcars in oakland. we thought that was it because
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there was no way we could see them ever making a come back. they were private companies, they had no money even when they were running they had very little. so we saw them start -- we see them all over the west springing up. there's one in seattle, portland, san jose has one. san jose is building another one now. san diego i mean is building another one it's been so successful. so i guess it's going to be the thing of the future again. >> reporter: for the first 40 or so years of this century the bay area had a wonderful rail system that linked the bay, east bay and san francisco down to the peninsula. it's gone now but truly not forgotten because the lesson has been learned and it is coming back.
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and that's it for this week's second look. i'm frank somerville. we'll see you again next week.

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